Grand Challenges in Understanding the Interplay of Climate and Land Changes

2017 March 28

Liu, S., Bond-Lamberty, B., Boysen, L.R., Ford, J.D., Fox, A., Gallo, K., Hatfield, J., Henebry, G.M., Huntington, T.G., Liu, Z., Loveland, T.R., Norby, R.J., Sohl, T., Steiner, A.L., Yuan, W., Zhang, Z., Zhao, S. (2017) Grand Challenges in Understanding the Interplay of Climate and Land Changes. Earth Interactions. 21(2): 1-43. DOI: 10.1175/EI-D-16-0012.1

Abstract:

Half of Earth’s land surface has been altered by human activities, creating various consequences on the climate and weather systems at local to global scales, which in turn affect a myriad of land surface processes and the adaptation behaviors. This study reviews the status and major knowledge gaps in the interactions of land and atmospheric changes and present 11 grand challenge areas for the scientific research and adaptation community in the coming decade. These land-cover and land-use change (LCLUC)-related areas include 1) impacts on weather and climate, 2) carbon and other biogeochemical cycles, 3) biospheric emissions, 4) the water cycle, 5) agriculture, 6) urbanization, 7) acclimation of biogeochemical processes to climate change, 8) plant migration, 9) land-use projections, 10) model and data uncertainties, and, finally, 11) adaptation strategies. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effects of LCLUC on local to global climate and weather systems, but these putative effects vary greatly in magnitude and even sign across space, time, and scale and thus remain highly uncertain. At the same time, many challenges exist toward improved understanding of the consequences of atmospheric and climate change on land process dynamics and services. Future effort must improve the understanding of the scale-dependent, multifaceted perturbations and feedbacks between land and climate changes in both reality and models. To this end, one critical cross-disciplinary need is to systematically quantify and better understand measurement and model uncertainties. Finally, LCLUC mitigation and adaptation assessments must be strengthened to identify implementation barriers, evaluate and prioritize opportunities, and examine how decision-making processes work in specific contexts.

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